08 March 2008

Tanfoglio EAA Witness Match - .40 S&W

Say hello to my new little friend. Pimp Daddy and I went to the Ft. Worth gun show today, and I brought my old Glock 35 along to see if anyone would actually pay $500 for it. I wasn't past the third table before I got 5 Ben Franklins for my trouble. Needless to say, I went from selling mode to shopping mode almost immediately (I know the female readers can relate, am I right?). I was thinking Springfield XD, S&W M&P, even CZ 85. But my buddy turned me on to this little beauty:
It was lust at first sight. This, my friends, is the Tanfoglio Witness Match in .40 S&W, resplendent with exactly ONE 15-round magazine and the very nifty case you see in these pics. Not only is it sexy, it turns out it's really practical.
This is a very popular gun in Europe, used by superstars like Henning Walgren and Eric Grauffel, two of the best shooters in the world. I visited Henning's website and learned a bit more about it, and also ordered a couple more magazines. Apparently, this is a pretty popular Limited gun. With a basepad extension, it looks like you can get as many as 22 rounds in a magazine and still be legal for Limited. Hmmm...

Not only that, but the uppers are interchangeable. Yep - I can shoot 9mm, .22, whatever - just by swapping the upper. Cool, no?

It gets better. I load my .40 rounds out to 1.185" OAL, which is a bit beyond the standard 1.125" for the .40 round. This handgun eats that just fine, apparently. In fact, I ordered magazines that are built for longer rounds. Very nice.

All this for $496. Not bad.

Going to the range tomorrow to run some rounds through it. I'll let you know how it goes.

06 March 2008

On this day, 1836

The defenders of the Alamo awoke to Santa Anna's buglers playing the Deguello. (to hear the bugle call, click on the Mexican flag on the link)

The seige of the Alamo ended later that day - so fellas, tonight, hoist a brew to the brave men who crossed a line in the sand and stood, fought, and died.

On February 24th, Travis wrote this letter:

To the People of Texas & all Americans in the world

Fellow Citizens & Compatriots

I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken. I have answered the command with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due his own honor & that of his country. VICTORY or DEATH.

William Barret Travis(1)
Commandancy of the Alamo, BĂ©xar
Feby. 24, 1836

This one's for you, Travis.

04 March 2008

Streaker no match for Symonds - Cricket

Who knew that cricket players were such bad-asses? In other news, cricket matches got streakers.

02 March 2008

The fallacy of “tactical” trainers

If you’ve spent any amount of time shooting, you’ve undoubtedly come across a training academy or trainer who will help you to build what they call a “combat” mindset. The mindset of a warrior. The kind of mindset that will make sure that you survive a violent encounter while laying waste to any and all comers.

Well, here’s a dirty little secret that you won’t hear anywhere else.

That’s horse poop, folks. Pure, unadulterated horse poop.

There is a whole market of folks out there eager to take your hard earned money to teach you the proper mindset.

You’ll find quotes like this:
“Without the proper mindset your chances of survival are greatly reduced.”

And this:
“Truth be known, your mindset and tactics actually play a much larger role in your survival than do your marksmanship skills. Expert marksmanship skills may be good for competition, but they are not what is going to keep you alive in most situations.”

I’ve been shooting long enough to have come across dozens of trainers and hundreds of shooters who all believe that of the 3 parts of what’s known as the “combat triad” (skill, mindset, tactics), the most important one is mindset. I see these people hide behind the fact that they can’t shoot (literally to save their own lives) by saying they have the “proper” mindset.

I have personally witnessed someone at an IDPA National Championship tell a crowd of onlookers that he could beat Robby Leatham (easily one of the greatest practical pistol shooters in the world and has been for the last few decades) in a gunfight. I perked up and paid attention and someone asked him just how he figured he could do it. His response was that he could take on Robby, and win, even if he was shooting a 2 inch revolver and Robbie could pick whatever pistol he wanted.

This fellow’s response was that he could do it because Robby was only a competition shooter and didn’t have the proper fighting mindset.

Yeah, right.

Sadly, hang around the shooting range for any length of time and you will see this kind of attitude much too often. And it’s sad. You will see instructors who can’t do simple, basic drills with ANY sort of competency, trying to brainwash their students into thinking they are the 2nd coming of Miyamoto Musashi. You’ll see instructors and shooters who have been trained by “name” shooting schools who can’t hit the broad side of a barn. I’m talking about people who can’t draw their weapon in under 2.5 seconds, reload in under 2.25 seconds, or shoot an El Prez (probably one of the most widely practiced drills in the shooting world) in under 12 seconds. And folks, that’s just flat out not acceptable. At a bare minimum, if your potential instructor can’t draw in less than 1.5 (and hit the target), reload in under 1.5, or hit an El Prez in less than 6.5 seconds, you are flat out wasting your time trying to learn how to shoot from that person.

Chances are, if a potential school or instructor dresses in all the latest and greatest tactical gear and equipment (including body armor, knee pads, elbow pads, thigh holster, etc), and shoots Weaver style, and calls their instructors cadre, then not only are you wasting your time, you are wasting your money.

Probably two of the dumbest things I see these folks teach their students are the tactical reload and the threat scan.

The tactical reload was created back in the day as a range retention system to keep your mags out of the dust and detritus of a sandy, desert environment when you swapped out mags after a drill. It had no bearing in real life “on the street” and was just a way to save time, energy, and effort at the range to keep you from having to bend down and pick up all your mags after an extended range session - and keep your mags clean and functioning in case you dropped them in the dust, dirt, mud, whatever.

The tactical reload evolved from a range use only to the “real” world in large part thanks to IDPA. The founders of IDPA thought that if you were in a shooting situation in real life, and needed to reload, that the best way to do it would be to retain a partially used magazine before you inserted the new mag in the gun and got back to work. The theory being that later on in the fight, you might need the extra bullets; or conversely, you would at least be denying a potential adversary the opportunity to use your own ammo against you - of course that is if you’re both shooting the same caliber weapon.

I can’t begin to tell you how ridiculous this is. For one thing, the tac load takes time. LOTS of time. Time that you likely will not have. So while you’re busy dicking around trying to stow that first mag you have now opened yourself up to attack with only one bullet in the gun. Great plan, huh? Either run the gun dry and reload or if you get to thinking you might need some more bullets, dump the old mag, put the new one in, and get back to work. Thankfully, IDPA leadership has come around and recognized that this range use only system was getting people in trouble in real life - and stopped mandating (mostly) tac loads on the clock.

The other worthless “tactic” I see all the time is what’s called the tactical or threat scan. The principle is, you’ve shot a bad guy and he is down on the ground and out of the fight. Considering that bad guys tend to travel in groups, you are then supposed to scan the area, staying on the sights of the gun to see if there are any other threats. And be sure, gentle readers, while you are performing this threat scan, have your warrior face on and look as mean as possible as that might very well deter any additional attacker.

Exactly. Because if the sight of you ventilating his cohort in crime won’t deter him, then a frosty glare will undoubtedly deter him from any more mayhem.

Looking, and being aware of your surroundings, are absolutely important skills to have. In fact, if you were looking and paying attention to begin with, you probably wouldn’t have had to ventilate the fellow who’s now assuming room temperature. But that’s neither here nor there.

If you are going to do a threat scan, by all means people, actually freaking LOOK. I see people all the time who will shoot a stage in a match with steel targets, like pepper poppers or falling plates. They will miss the steel, finish the stage, do their scan right over the steel that they missed, and NOT re-engage the steel. Why? Because they were not actually LOOKING. They were only interested in looking cool, looking tactical, looking high speed and low drag. If you’re going to do a scan, dear reader, drop the gun and look. If you keep the gun up then what you are going to do is get tunnel vision and look down the sights of the weapon and not see a damn thing.

So, dear reader, if you are considering getting some training, consider the source. Know that just because someone has a ton of certifications from big schools all across the country and/or national organizations doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to shoot.

To pick a good, quality instructor, watch the person shoot. Do they shoot in competition? Are they willing to put their skills to the test? Or do they hide behind the mantra of “that will get you killed on the street”? Do they tell you that they are the only one(s) who know “the way”? Can they draw, reload, and hit the target at speed and at distance?

Failing all that, if you’re planning on going to a school somewhere and want to know if it’s worthwhile, drop us a line here at the Tattler. We could easily save you a lot of time, money and effort.